While Oakland has been in the top 10 in rushing at the end of the last two seasons, they have not led the league in rushing since 2000, when they put up 2,470 yards on the legs of Tyrone Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman, and Rich Gannon.
That year, they averaged 32.5 attempts per game on the ground. Wheatley ran for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns, while Gannon and Kaufman added another 1,028 yards.
This year, the Raiders have feasibly the most outstanding combination of halfbacks in the league. Darren McFadden, a second-year man from Arkansas, is the expected feature player in the backfield.
McFadden is also a good receiver, and with some underdeveloped talent at wide receiver for the Raiders, he could be called upon in the passing game more than the rushing attack.
Justin Fargas is a fan favorite. A six-year pro from USC, Fargas has been the starter at tailback for two consecutive seasons, in which he won Oakland's commitment to excellence award. He has run for 1,862 yards and five TDs as Oakland's leading tailback for the previous two seasons.
Michael Bush, a third-year back and former Louisville Cardinal, lit up Tampa Bay last year for 177 yards and two touchdowns. His first year in Oakland was lost to recovering from a broken leg, suffered early in his senior year in college.
Bush was once considered to be one of the top halfbacks of the 2007 rookie class before the injury knocked him all the way to the fourth round of the draft. Oakland really got a steal on this 6'1", 245-lb. beast.
So, let's really examine this quote from Justin Fargas: "There's going to be plenty of carries and plenty of yards out there for each of us. I feel like we can all have great seasons and all complement each other well. Three 1,000-yard backs aren't out of the question."
Okay, Justin, maybe not out of the question, but you have to admit that it hasn't been done before in the history of the NFL. There have been teams with two 1,000-yard backs, but never a team with three.
In fact, only two teams in league history have broken 3,000 combined rushing yards. New England did it in 1978 with a committee of runners, and Buffalo did it in 1973 on the legs of O.J. Simpson, Jim Braxton, and Larry Watkins.
Albeit, they are both AFC teams, so the idea is conceivable, but that is in the entire history of the NFL.
The only team to come close to 3,000 this decade was Atlanta in 2006, when Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick both topped 1,000 yards, and Jerious Norwood added 633 more rushing yards to their total. Even with those totals, the Falcons only accumulated 2,939 yards that season.
Only four other teams have come close to the 3,000-yard mark besides the 2006 Falcons. We'll get to that in the slideshow, but for now let's take a look at what could happen this year in Oakland.
Fans don't know who will be the starter—mainly because the coaches are putting the blinders on when it comes to the subject.
Tom Cable had this to say: "We have three starters. The important thing is, getting them each in a role that's productive for this football team because we know all three are going to impact us in a great way."
That seems to be the biggest dilemma: How do you develop a scheme where they can all be productive and make an impact on the 2009 squad?
Bush appears to be the clear-cut most durable player—the type of back that can wear down a defense without getting worn down. His big frame can dish out as much punishment as any defense can deliver.
His biggest game last year came against the Buccaneers when he totaled two touchdowns and 177 yards on 27 carries.
McFadden has the ability to break a long gainer at any point when he touches the rock. He is a shifty runner who himself can pack a punch with his 6'2", 210-lb. frame.
We got to see his brand of running early in the year in Kansas City, when he ran all over the Chiefs for 164 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries—a game where Bush added 90 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Fargas' biggest game came against Denver in week 12 last season. He ran 24 times for 107 yards but failed to reach the end zone. He did, however, lead the team in rushing last year with 853 yards.
So, let me break it down. Last year, we had Fargas with his 853 yards. McFadden put up 499 yards on two bum toes and an injured shoulder. Bush was right behind McFadden with 421 yards. Together they averaged 4.23 yards per carry on 426 carries (26.6 attempts per game).
Now, let's assume that the running game will be more of a factor this year, and that the addition of Lorenzo Neal will add 0.5 yards per carry to the trio's tally. Let's say they get the 32.5 attempts per game of the 2000 squad, with their improved "Lozo Average" of 4.73 yards per carry.
The grand total for the year for the three backs would be 2,459.6 yards for the year. Add in the 216 yards accumulated by the other Oakland rushers last year, and that brings you to 2,675.6 yards.
Conclusion: While the runners may lead the league in rushing when all is said and done, it would be a remarkable feat to reach 3,000 yards rushing—even more unbelievable to have three 1,000-yard runners.
So, will they shake, rattle, and roll to 3,000? Probably not. Will it be a treat to watch them try? Absolutely—it sure will.
Here's a look at the teams that have made it, and a few that have come close.